Powder Skiing at Snowbird and Alta

I asked for Friday off from work in anticipation of what I hoped would be an epic bluebird powder day. On Thursday, I kept track of which areas at Snowbird remained closed during the storm because those areas would likely have the best snow conditions on Friday.

I arrived at Snowbird early enough to catch the first (public) tram to the top of Hidden Peak. Mineral Basin didn’t open yesterday, so I figured its south- and southeast-facing runs would be loaded with powder snow because of the storm’s strong west-northwest winds.

I was right. The 19 inches of fresh powder on White Diamonds was some of the deepest I’ve ever skied.

It had been years since I skied that much fresh powder. I fell three times, but, in between, the skiing was great.

White Diamonds
White Diamonds at Snowbird
White Diamonds
Fresh powder on White Diamonds at Snowbird

For my second run, I decided to head out to The Bookends, which still had plenty of untracked snow. While riding the Mineral Basin Express lift, I noticed that the wind was blowing across the north-facing slopes, but the more northeast-facing slopes seemed to be protected from the wind. When the crowded Bookends Traverse slowed to a crawl, however, I got impatient and dropped in before I turned the corner for the more northeast-facing slopes. Wind had, indeed, scraped snow off the slope I skied. The snow was only a few inches deep near the top of the run, but the skiing was still good.

After one more run at Snowbird, I headed over to Alta. There were still some opportunities there to hike for fresh tracks, but I decided instead to take what I could get from the gravity traverses. Ballroom was tracked, but still fresh. I also dipped into the trees and stayed off trail for some more powder turns before skiing Collins Face down to the base of the Wildcat lift.

After a good run down from Wildcat and a decent run down Yellow Trail and East Greeley, I ended up on the Sunnyside lift. With most everything else tracked out, I still found some fresh powder on Blue Bell off the Sunnyside lift. Although it’s low-angle terrain, it’s still powder skiing and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Back at Snowbird, Little Cloud Bowl’s fresh, untracked powder glistened in the afternoon sun, but ski patrol never did open Road to Provo while I was there. That fresh powder would be for someone else to enjoy. After one last run at Snowbird, I called it a day and headed home content with what was surely one of the best ski days I’ve ever had.

Build a Ski Boot Spreader Board

Ski Boot Spreader Board

To make it easier to do work on my ski boots, I needed to build a ski boot spreader board. A boot spreader board provides solutions for a couple problems:

  1. The ski binding attached to the board secures the boot in place while doing work.
  2. The board provides a way to hold open the boot flaps, which is useful for checking fit and getting equipment in place before executing shell stretches.

A boot spreader board is not always necessary when doing work on your ski boots, but it is nice to have available, and it is easy to build one at home. Here’s how I built and use my boot spreader board:

READ MOREBuild a Ski Boot Spreader Board

Snowbird Tour

I took the day off work to go skiing at Snowbird. My goals for today were to ski the Upper Cirque and to film the view from atop some of the Upper Cirque chutes. I succeeded on both accounts, but I didn’t ski my run very well. The conditions weren’t great, and it had been a long time since I last skied anything that challenging, but I figured I could put it all together for one run. I did not, but that’s OK. I also accidentally passed the chute I had planned to ski. It’s one of my favorites, so I cut back across the next chute to get to it, which didn’t make for great footage, but I wanted to ski that chute because it was more familiar.

Skiing Library

I highly recommend the following books, especially if you ski in Utah. The Powder Hound’s guides are comprehensive and will open Alta and Snowbird to you for thorough exploration. The Chuting Gallery will make you want to go out and bootpack up some chute for turns, even if such a pursuit may ultimately prove both dangerous and beyond your appetite for risk-taking. Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain will help you understand avalanches so that you can make better decisions when exploring the backcountry. Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth will help you understand how Mother Nature fills the hills with all that snow.

The Powder Hound’s Guide to Snowbird
by Brad Asmus

The Powder Hound's Guide to Snowbird cover

The Powder Hound’s Guide to Skiing Alta
by Brad Asmus

The Powder Hound's Guide to Skiing Alta cover

The Chuting Gallery
by Andrew McLean

The Chuting Gallery cover

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain
by Bruce Tremper

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain cover

Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth
by Jim Steenburgh

Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth cover


Today was a short groomer day at Alta. I also experimented with my GoPro camera setup. I think I now have a setup that works. It provides a good point-of-view camera angle with minimal shaking. Now I just need to start skiing some more interesting terrain.

With that said, the following GoPro footage only features some easy terrain off the Sunnyside lift. The skiing footage isn’t too exciting, but it was a beautiful day. Enjoy!

Saturday Skiing

A storm had dropped about a foot of snow on the Wasatch during the week. Plenty of work-dorks like me were anxious to get out there and ski the leftovers on this beautiful Saturday. There was some tracked powder in between the groomed runs, but today would mostly be a groomer day. And it was a great one.

One thing surprised me when I drove up to Alta this morning was the amount of people that were headed into the backcountry. I swear there were more cars parked at the usual trailheads for the touring routes than in the resort parking lots. The degree to which touring and backcountry skiing, in general, have become mainstream is definitely a new development since I last skied regularly (2008-ish).